My man Stephen Colbert made it tough on me in 2010, in a good way. He had enough excellent moments to make selecting just one for my top ten feel almost completely arbitrary. I ultimately went with this one, from the December 16th episode of the Report, for the total force of its hypocrisy-bashing. Make sure you watch the whole clip, because he saves the coup de grâce for the last couple of lines.
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat|
My inclusion of this video rather than one of Colbert’s more ballyhooed 2010 moments (the previously-mentioned Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear and his testimony on behalf of migrant farm workers before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Security) may seem counter-intuitive. Taking the satirical brickbat to hypocrites is hardly new for him — in fact, it could be declared as his primary stock in trade since the Report began in 2005. However, it has not become less necessary in that time. I would argue that it is more necessary than ever.
“What I like best about Bill’s argument,” Colbert declares in the video, “is its complete factual inaccuracy.” Funny, cutting, and true enough to be chilling if you think about its implications. With the campaign and eventual election of Barack Obama as U.S. President, the tide of truthiness has risen to unforeseen levels of absurdity: need I even mention birthers, or ludicrous accusations of socialism and “death panels?” While these falsehoods have been of greater consequence than Bill O’Reilly’s quasi-Christian bullshitting, they represent the same syndrome: the determination of conservative ideologues to create a post-factual America.
Conventional American news media, whose objective is not accuracy but profit, therefore does nothing to stem the tide of misinformation and demagoguery. The premise of “balanced” news coverage (or news commentary, often conflated with coverage) is itself a fallacy. The presentation of opposing viewpoints on a news issue under the imprimatur of fairness is a disservice to the viewer when only one of them is factually sustainable, but both are given equal weight… as is usually the case.
The succinct sub-title over at The Reality-Based Community reads, “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Fortunately, we also have satirists like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart on TV to remind us of this.